This is the first in a three-part blog series exploring how businesses can adapt to a millennial workforce.
Over the course of the next three blogs we will explore the role that employee engagement, empowerment, collaboration and company culture fill to change, grow and shape an employee’s mindset.
Millennials are now the largest generation in the US workforce, outnumbering Baby Boomers and Gen Xers alike. This shift has driven some heightened media attention to millennials, but the change has been far less startling in my experience. After twenty years in an industry that touts change, I have seen multiple generations join the workforce and climb the corporate latter, and the differences from one group to the next may be more talk than truth.
Baby Boomers were loyal and consistent; often staying with the same companies throughout their careers. Technology struck a chord with my generation, and Gen Xers saw the opportunity to implement new tools, new business processes and to reshape business. When I entered the workforce typewriters and mainframe computers were the norm, but I could tell that change was coming. My goal was always to do something with computers that would change the way the world worked. Almost overnight we moved on to empowering businesses through technology, catapulting companies into the next generation, and even preventing Y2K. We wanted to be a part of the coming change, so we hopped jobs, searched for the culture we wanted, and in many cases, eventually found ourselves as loyal as our parents’ generation.
We’ve all heard millennials are different. They want to change the world, they want to do things their way, and they see things from a new perspective. I have hired millennials, worked with them and listened to them, and I have come to realize that despite the buzz, what millennials want from their careers and employers is not as unique as it may appear at first blush.
Different generations bring different perspectives and points of view, but ultimately they want many of the same things. All workers want to feel appreciated and heard, to be part of the solution and to feel they are making a difference. To achieve this, businesses must build a culture that evolves with the workforce, engage and empower employees, fuel collaboration, and understand how these aspects affect one another.
Culture is at the heart of every organization, stemming from the top level through operational lines of business. Just as the workforce evolves with time, organizational culture must shift in tandem. To support this, leaders must listen to the opinions around them and learn from them. If an employee (Millennial or otherwise) identifies a new or different way to do things, leaders should take the time to listen and explore the idea. Leading by example in this instance will promote a culture that embraces new ideas and seeks out the best methods, rather than just maintaining the status quo.
Done properly, culture can support other key aspects in play. Just as outdated processes may drain employees and hurt morale, promoting a culture that adapts new methods and welcomes new technology will empower employees to do what works best for them. While Millennials may want to make a difference and change the world, they aren’t the only ones. A culture that embraces these attitudes will leave employees of all generations more engaged, and will ultimately support a stronger business.
The second blog in this series will focus on creating an engaged and empowered workforce, no matter its age make up.